A new story from iHeart Podcast Channel


Of the more inspired ways to use like a product and I think I have the perfect example so first of all have you ever heard of this superhero cyborg camp I have not but it sounds pretty awesome does where'd you has okay is this weeklong design education event that's organized by San Francisco nonprofit called kid mom and they've been doing it every year since two thousand twelve though I I guess now it's called the superhero boost body mod workshop and anyway it still sounds awesome the ideas for kids are dealing with different forms of upper limb loss to come to this camp and learn a bunch of new design skills and then they could put what they've learned to use and actually design and build a new arm with its own set of superpowers that does sound really cool so are you going to tell me that someone actually built a prosthetic arm out of lego bricks so it's not exactly that people have paired lego bricks with these server motors to create prosthetic arms as well as like and it's super impressive to see them in action but in this case this is a nine year old named Eden Robinson made a different kind of like a hand so while attending the superhero camp in two thousand thirteen eighteen years old toys and spare parts from a hardware store to fashion a threaded metal rod into which you could attach different parts so for example one attachment had a Wii remote built into it and and the other one had a built in for but the coolest one by far with this life size version of the yellow claw like hands you could find on a lego minifigure I don't know how practical that is exactly but it would definitely be a fun way looking for Rideau's and yeah just burritos I mean I do like the idea of having all these different attachments that you can swap around including the a few that would just be for fun like that yellow claw hand but I mean honestly like why not do that exactly and one of the best parts is that one of the artists at the camp with so impressed with aids creation that he actually help them refine the concept and build a working version later that year and not only that the to them also brings during these other specialty arms like there was one with this poetas meant so aid can actually play the violin in the school orchestra and the one with the super soaker arm which is just so awesome I mean you really won me over one Chris okay I could have definitely used one of those this past summer but I will here's another example of how lego pieces have been making people's lives easier back in two thousand fifteen the natural history museum in London took up a really unique and honestly daunting challenge that over the course of the next five years they wanted to digitize their entire collection of more than twenty million ten specimens now to do this they would need to take pictures of every kind of insect imaginable and of course they wanted to be able to capture the fine details of each of these things like LED cares and wing tips and so the photos we need to be taken from all different angles now this is easier said than done because you know some of these specimens are over three hundred years old an incredibly fragile hollow bastion anytime you're picking up one of these things are definitely running the risk of breaking off an antenna or a leg or some other truly fragile part of these so I am curious how lego figures into this because I I mean it does seem like entomologists have been handling pinned insects for centuries and photographing them so don't they have their own like specialty tools that exist already like why he's like this well that's the thing I mean those kinds of devices do exist but most of them are pretty unwieldy and and actually really expensive too and that's why one of the museum's entomologist this Danish guy name steam dupont he started looking for an alternative solution I was looking at this article in the Atlantic about this and as they described a dupont wanted something quote cheap portable and customizable so that he could observe the wings of his moss easier and since you've been born and raised in Denmark he naturally thought that his favorite childhood toy might be the right tool for the job and he was right so use a bunch of those black and gray building blocks and a handful of connector pieces and in doing this he was able to fashion you know several of these and segmented Bellator's that can easily position and even rotate these pens specimens as other devices range in size from like thirty pieces some of them have more than a hundred and fifty pieces but even the biggest of these designs only takes about ten minutes to build and all of them cost less than twenty Bucks which you know is a lot less expensive than most of the scientific equipment people would have been using yeah but the best part is that dupont put all the designs and building instructions up online for free so professional and amateur entomologists across the globe can now piece together their very own insect manipulators I think the crazy thing is it's not even the first time I've heard of museum workers using like a race to generate these solutions like there was this other museum in England that had this three thousand year old sarcophagus but because the air is so damp and chilly there the relics face and the chest eventually caved in on itself and the museum just stuck the whole thing in the basement for decades so what why can they just repair the museum's restore artifacts all the time right yeah but because the sarcophagus was made from this paper mache like material repairing it would involve wedding the case so they could be reshaped but there's a strong chance the relic would have gotten even more damage in that process but thankfully the site Cambridge grad the student and David Knowles came up with this pretty clever workaround he built the six adjustable lego platforms or mommy Jackson's he called them and they basically propped up the collapsing part the cough against and this is a limited that concerned you know over these further cave ins and and allow the team to get in there they Moisant and reshape the money back into this original safe and it was really simple and low tech and perfect for what was this really complex problem huh I mean I feel like that kind of sums up lego toys pretty perfectly don't you think I mean you got this toy this deceptively simple on the surface just a bunch of plastic blocks that snap together and they're not super detail there's no elaborate backstory I catching gimmick to this and it was just a handful of these breaks you can create literally anything you can think of yeah and you're absolutely right that a handful of bricks is really all it takes an in fact there's this mathematician named Soren Eilers and he helped the lego group determine exactly how many possible structures you could make from just six standard lego bricks wow and and what kind of peace was using for this he was using a four by two break which you know is rectangular and after reading this computer program that modeled every possible combination of six of these bricks Eilers ended up with a truly massive number because it turns out that with just six of these breaks you make over nine hundred million different combinations oh wow I mean that maybe that's not an endless array of possibilities but that's pretty that's a big number and I I would have to mention though like as you continued adding bricks that number of combinations with just spiral out of control pretty quickly yeah I I always said that if you want this program to calculate nine or ten breaks like it would probably take years and maybe even hundreds of years sometimes maps just doesn't make any side well let's leave that challenge for the next generation of lego maniacs to take up and I'm I'm sure there won't be any shortage of them in the future but in the meantime what do you say we piece together a few of the straight facts we couldn't fit in today's episode and maybe see what kind of fact off we can build with them sounds good to me we may have seen the story but sometime last year in fort worth Texas there was an off duty police officer that was.

Coming up next